A few days ago, three people died during a shooting inside a hair salon in Wisconsin. Last week, four people were killed in another hair salon, this one in Orlando. In both cases, the media reported the shootings were “apparently the result of a domestic dispute.” Also in both cases, witnesses expressed shock, surprise, and horror that violence could happen there, in a place they’d thought was safe.
Here’s the truth: the only way that we can be prepared to deal with an unexpected threat is to be prepared, even when we don’t expect a threat. That’s flat common sense. It just makes sense to carry the firearm as your default setting, everywhere you go, everywhere it’s legal—just as you keep the spare tire in the trunk of your car even when you don’t expect to need it. That’s the only way it will be there when you unexpectedly need it.
But I wanted to talk about something else. Both of these situations involved an attacker who violated a legal restraining order. In the Florida case, the salon manager had taken out a restraining order against the attacker on October 9, a week and a half before the shooting that killed four people and injured another. In the Wisconsin case, a hairstylist received a restraining order on October 8, almost two weeks before the attacker killed three people and injured four more.
Note the timeline?
Yup. Getting a restraining order might be legally necessary. It can help law enforcement get an arrest. It often means an easier conviction when the criminal harasses you. If you do need to defend yourself physically, the fact that you had a restraining order against the attacker can help keep you out of jail in the aftermath. So it’s often a good and even necessary thing.
That doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Getting a restraining order can, and sometimes does, drive an already-unstable person over the top. Statistically, the most dangerous time for a woman who leaves an abusive situation is in the days and weeks right after she leaves. That’s when violence like this happens.
Reading this, you might be thinking, “I do not need to know this. This does not apply to me. I am not in an abusive relationship, and never will be.” That may be true. But you almost certainly have friends, acquaintances, relatives, or co-workers who are. Worse than that, you might not even realize who those people are. They may not tell you the day they finally leave the creep. They may not make an announcement to you when they take out a restraining order against him.
When the restraining orders went out, the co-workers at each salon were at just as much risk as the criminals’ intended targets. So was every customer in the place. It’s unlikely that all of those women realized they were at heightened risk for a violent attack … but they were.
And that is why I recommend carrying all the time, everywhere it’s legal, even in low-crime neighborhoods and “safe” places like hair salons.